Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why I Am What I Am

There are many things that make a person who they are. Who they associate with, what they like, what they dislike, what kind of car they drive, what they do for a living and on and on. I happen to believe that there is one thing that is particularly revealing of who a person really is.

What scared the crap out of them when they were children.

I once knew a kid who was terrified of caterpillars. Another kid was afraid of afros. Neither of them would admit it to any but their best friends, probably even to this day. But I swear it's true. I, of course, was only afraid of the stuff that was really scary.

Well, okay...really scary if you were a kid with a lot of imagination growing up in the 70s. Here, then, is a partial list of the stuff that made me want to throw my Scooby Doo lunch box into the air and run screaming like a girl home to my mommy at various times between the ages of 4 and 12...some of them still scare me a little:

1) Sleestak. Are you kidding me? Forget about Grumpy or Alice or any of the other assorted vicious creatures that Marshall, Will and Holly had to deal with. Pointy-headed lizard-men who shot arrows at you and walked like my grandpa freaked me right the hell out.

2) Dyna-Girl (of ElectraWoman and DynaGirl fame) in the episode where one of the arch-villains turned her into her own evil twin. The evil laughter as she contemplated betraying her former mentor chilled me to my very soul.

3) My aunt. She was crass, loud, and would take no crap from me or anybody else. She's a dear lady to everyone now, but a scary one to me then. Mom, Dad, stop laughing.

4) The fishing house that used to sit down at the beach near my folks' lake cabin. I was pretty sure it was haunted (a la Scooby Doo), and even if it wasn't there were a LOT of spiders. I was pretty sure they were black widows, too. Spiders never really bothered me much except for the ones in that little shack. They were hungry.

5) "The Old Man In The Wall". My mom never found out about this one until years after the fact, and to this day she insists on bringing it up. You see, my room in the house where I grew up had had a stove in it at some point in the past. There was a hole in the wall to accomodate the flue. When the stove was removed, they had patched over the hole and painted. Over time, the patching had slightly wrinkled with age. My 4-year-old eyes looked at that and handed the image to my 4-year-old mind, which interpreted it as an old man trying to push his face through the wall. Think it's funny? Remember in Nightmare On Elm Street when Freddy pushed his head up out through the bed? Same thing.

6) My third grade teacher. I have no idea what it was about that woman, but third grade was where I picked up the habit of always being in motion to try to bleed off any extra stress in my life. Rocking, jumping on a tramp, pacing...to this day I rock in my seat at work a lot of the time. She took 5 years off my life before I was 10.

7) Bullheads. Did you know if they sting you with your stickers, your ear holes will melt shut and your hair will fall out?

8) Motorcycles. Talk about conflicted...I ride one every year and take great pleasure in riding, but they scare the hell out of me too. My cousin died in a motorcycle crash when I was

[interruption while The Wife lectures me about closing the toilet lid so Mitch doesn't sneak a drink]

ten, and ever since they've given me the creeps at odd moments. A little like Christine gave anyone who ever saw the movie the creeps in a big way. A motorcycle just sits there and looks at you when you're not watching, sizing you up, licking it's radiator grille and wondering if you might be tasty.

9) The Six Million Dollar Man. There was just something creepy about that sound effect they would use when he was using his bionic stuff that set me on edge...plus, I mean, the guy's EYE was fake. He was a fercripesake CYBORG, people. The bionic woman didn't bother me as much, but that's probably because I had a bodacious crush on Lindsay Wagner. I used to have dreams of her and what's-her-name who played Wonder Woman.

10) A movie I barely remember called "Night Cries". Gave me nightmares for months.

11) Anything to do with any Planet of the Apes movie.

12) Ditto for Godzilla. King Kong was a chump next to him.

13) Where The Wild Things Are. Don't laugh. It wasn't funny.

14) Kiss. They frightened me as a little kid and delighted me as a big kid. They still do. But that tongue thing and the makeup was a little much for an 8-year-old to take.

15) Any episode of Star Trek you would care to name (except maybe the tribble one), but most especially that one with the flying attack raviolis that would batten onto your back and suck your juices out. Dude, that was just not good in any way. Leiutenant Uhura was hot, though.

There are probably hundreds of others, but those were the ones that sprang easily to mind. I lived a rich mind-life as a kid.

UPDATE: Okay, fine, I did forget ONE very important one...Sigmund the Sea Monster. Or rather, not necessarily Sigmund himself so much as his family. They were always so...sinister. And they could squinch their faces up in the most gawdawful contortions. Sure, they were nothing so much as a family of weedy aquatic weebles who did fall down and who couldn't hurt a fly if they wanted to, but the thing is they did want to. And they were sea monsters. And let's not forget I was like 8 or so.


At 9:46 PM , Blogger FosterAbba said...

Sleestack! Yes, I remember those, and they definitely were scary. That hissing sound...ewww...shudder! I'm glad I'm not eight anymore, because those critters were definitely the stuff nightmares were made of.

Volcanic eruptions were one of my big scary things. I can remember a nightmare I had when I was young about being trapped in a lava processing plant (kind of like a sewer plant, only it processed lava) and I still remember that dream and how bad it scared me...

At 7:34 AM , Blogger Garrent said...

Ewwww, CLOWNS! Why do they have to wear baggy clothes and paint thier faces? What are they trying to hide?! **shudder!**

Oh, and Santa Claus. Imagine a large, old man in a bright red suit who wants all the kiddies to sit on his lap... anyone else would be arrested, you know.

I've never heard of Bullheads. We must not have them here in Los Angeles. Maybe you should relocate.

At 11:48 AM , Blogger Dan said...



To the uninitiated, the whiskers around the mouth are unnerving, but they're not dangerous...the dorsal and lateral fins have little stickers in them that HURTREALLYBAD if they get you. Some people around here, especially in the back country, have lots of recipes for bullhead, including soup, stew, and so on. It's not too bad when properly prepared, either...but usually you don't catch them big enough to make them worth cleaning and they're sort of hard to clean when they're big enough, as you have to basically rip them out of their skin with a pliers and your foot.

Minnesota has about 3,294,789,298,837,389,310,112,392 of these in our lakes.


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